Approved CYM minute on UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2009:

 70. Minute on Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples: We approved the draft minute from CFSC, based on a minute from Vancouver Monthly Meeting, as follows:

Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends fully endorses the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 September, 2007.   We do not agree with the vote of the Canadian government, one of only four countries which voted against the Declaration.  We note with appreciation that Australia has subsequently reversed its negative position.  We call upon the Canadian Government to follow Australia’s lead. This would support the will of the majority of our Members of Parliament, given that the Canadian House of Commons approved the endorsement and implementation of the Declaration on 8 April 2008.

The Declaration does not create new rights, but elaborates on the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples worldwide.  It provides a principled framework and Indigenous context for interpreting existing international human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the two human rights Covenants and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Declaration is therefore highly relevant to Canada’s existing international obligations.  

Our federal government’s refusal to accept this Declaration as a minimum standard of human rights is contrary to Canada’s long-standing tradition of supporting and protecting human rights through the use of international human rights instruments.  Furthermore, the federal government continues to mislead its citizens with statements about the Declaration that are inaccurate and contrary to international human rights laws.

We respectfully request the federal government endorse the Declaration.  We call on all provincial and municipal governments in Canada to urge the federal government to endorse and implement the Declaration.  We also remind all levels of government that they should abide by the Declaration’s terms and spirit in all dealings and interactions with Indigenous Peoples even if the federal government takes no supportive action. International Human Rights instruments are accepted as universal once adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

We ask the Clerks of all Canadian Yearly Meeting Monthly Meetings to contact the appropriate persons in their provinces, encouraging municipal and provincial leaders to make their voices heard in requesting that our federal government support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in keeping with the democratic process upheld by our House of Commons.

We ask CYM to take the requested actions, and we ask Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee (QAAC) and CFSC to draft a minute of record to bring back for approval at CYM 2010. We ask that QAAC ensure that Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups have the resources necessary to carry this concern forward.

Extensive background information on the Declaration can be found on the Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee webpage at http://cfsc.quaker.ca/pages/projects_abor.html"